Course Review: Salt Creek Golf Club in Chula Vista, Calif.
It started when one of my regular golf partners (a.k.a the Canman) called me while I was driving to visit the grandparents with the wife and kid. “A deal too good to be true,” he called it and I agreed. A year long pass to play Salt Creek Golf Club in Chula Vista, Calif. for just $500. That’s right … $500. The rules were simple: Play Monday-Friday and all you pay is a $15 cart fee. “There are only 100 of these deals and they won’t last,” claimed the Canman. So I agreed to sign up, tactfully, without the wife knowing and there began my year of golf at the Salt.
What Salt Creek has going for it is that it is an affordable track that has no houses surrounding any of the holes. The serenity of the place in all parts of the property --- with the exception of being right below high tension wires for 3 shots --- is refreshing in America’s seventh largest city. Usually these types of daily-fee courses charge upwards of $100. When it was built, that was certainly the idea. But a bad economy has forced this South County gem into more aggressive pricing and the members of the $500 club have reaped the reward.
When the Canman calls to offer me the deal again next year I am in... just don’t tell my wife.
Getting there and getting a tee time
I knew that getting there would be a bit of an issue. Salt Creek Golf Club is located at the far southeastern section of the San Diego Metro area, about 10 miles from the coast and about the same from the Mexican border. However, with the addition of a new $2.50 toll road, I calculated a commute of only 30 minutes, thus increasing my precious pre-round dilly-dally time by 15 minutes.
Practice and locker facilities
The range is gigantic, easily one of the largest in the county and players can almost always hit from the grass. Targets are well defined and it faces Northeast with the sun never being an issue. A warm up bucket is $5.
Having played this course weekly for nine months now I can say that I have seen it in almost every condition. The large greens that are smartly undulated, when in their prime, rival that of some of the private clubs. The tee areas are good with the exception of some back tees that see less attention from maintenance crews and are losing their original level state. The fairways are easily my favorite feature because they are tightly-mowed and generally very hard.
The bunkers, however, are another story.
Being a links-style track, bunkers are an integral part of Salt Creek. The problem is that they are generally in poor condition with either no maintenance at all or worse, farmed by a morning crew rake job that is done with a plow. Chances are that if you find your ball in the bunker, it will likely be in a furrow that was meant for corn or wheat. We solved this issue by implementing a policy of lift, rake and place in all bunkers. Problem solved.
The course is not long but it is not short either. If you play it stretched out you can still reach most of the par-5’s but several par-3 holes are well over 200 yards. There are tight holes and wide open holes, downhill shots and uphill ones too. Level lies are rare and wind is almost always a factor. There are fall-offs on several of the green complexes and there are lateral hazards that come into play on 90 percent of the holes.
The signature hole, No. 10, is a gem. From the tips, it is a 220-yard downhill carry over a ravine to a fairway that goes back uphill and curves slightly to the left. When you catch it in the morning or in the afternoon light, the backdrop of Mt. San Miguel looks close enough to touch. When the wildflowers are blooming it is site that never goes unnoticed
Customer service: Clubhouse, food & 19th hole
There is a bar which doubles as food service as well, but it is bare bones. The drink cart is very proficient and always staffed with friendly young ladies. The best deal is easily the monster pour well drinks (like a triple drink) for $4 that will soothe any bad round. The rest of the customer service is standard and pace of play is moderate.